Reel Scenes: Facing the Darkness

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Repeat after me: “I will never say there is nothing to do in the Imperial Valley again!”

I attended the one-time showing of “Facing the Darkness” last Thursday night at Cinemark in El Centro. It was a documentary made by Franklin Graham and the ministry Samaritans Purse and it was shown just one night in our community. The theater was less than half full. I was disappointed in the turnout, not the film. When Christian films come to the community, we need to support them. Rarely have I been disappointed in the product…just people.

It was about an Ebola outbreak in Liberia back in 2014 where nearly 30,000 people died. Missionaries from Samaritan’s Purse were busy rebuilding a clinic/hospital and providing medical services when they were caught in the middle of the outbreak. Several of the medical missionary leaders (doctors, nurses, lab techs) were infected and it was a race against time to identify the specific virus and find the limited anecdotes to save precious lives.

The title of the film could have been “Too Little, Too Late” reflecting the anemic response of the international community to this poor Western Africa country in their time of extreme need. God bless the missionaries who fight on the front lines, not only sharing the Gospel, but for providing various health, medical, educational and prevention needs. If not for the rapid response of Samaritan Purse and few other groups, the numbers who died would have been significantly higher. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but prevention is even more valuable when there is no cure.

The documentary was well acted and one came away from the film with the sense that Liberia is a beautiful country, and that describes the people as well. It also shed light on the dramatic consequences for family, when servants are caught in the middle of crisis, which is all too common in the developing world. The fight or flight response is part of human nature. To stay, and sacrifice, and fight for the well-being of others, is the struggle of the Holy Spirit with the values of a dying world. What happened in the film was not only supernatural, because most folks, like in the parable of the Good Samaritan, respond with flight, but what really happened in this crisis was no less than miraculous. When God is in the mix of bad things, good things happen.

I saw that Franklin Graham directed the film and also had a significant role as the head of Samaritan’s Purse, which puts people and friends in harm’s way. His role and commentary in the film, were heartfelt and it gave the viewer insight into the trials and tribulations of ministry leadership on an international level.

It was a powerfully good movie and shows the hands and feet of God in strange places. In the theater, the faces in the darkness were riveted to the screen. God provides, but we have to do our part, whether as a servant missionary or a good Christian consumer.